John L. Stanizzi
I wrote this poem in late January during Tupelo’s 30/30 challenge. I hope this piece embodies the frustration of those last days in January when trying to find something – anything – to write about was entirely daunting!
Committee of One
I had read that Aeschylus spent his life
preoccupied with worry about dying,
so I’m sure that he would have been
extremely apprehensive about
the wake of vultures I saw mourning
in the big dead oak on campus.
I had been hunting for a poem
in the mild January afternoon
when I came across this
tree of ragged bumbershoots.
And while it had been prophesied
that a falling object would be the
undoing of Aeschylus,
a tree full of vultures,
like alien pods,
would not, I don’t believe,
have given him great comfort,
what with his impacted insecurity
and his tendency to always
be looking up.
I was desperate,
looking for any way into a poem.
I would have even been happy
to be a sucker for the obvious comparison
between the big raptors’ beaks
and the nib of my pen
from which nothing was being written.
Surely one of those big flight feathers
would be the perfect quill
to pen my opus.
At any rate,
we were both spending lots of time outside,
me searching the countryside for a poem,
and Aeschylus thinking there was
less chance of him being clobbered outside than in.
In flight they are called a kettle,
this crowd of latterday argentavis
which can boil up to a chilly 20,000 feet
and float there,
but today they just rested on the bald branches,
an insouciant committee of barristers,
stoic, static, silent,
their startling red faces
too small for their massive frames,
and I thought
How can there not be a poem
somewhere in the branches
of a massive dead oak
upon which a volt of vultures has roosted?
But nothing came,
not a single word written
on the dead leaves of the oak,
and so I stood there stupidly waiting,
as if a poem would drop from the sky
like a turtle dropped
on the bald head of an unsuspecting Aeschylus,
but nothing fell,
not a stanza,
not a line, not even the hard shell of some simple idea.
©2016 John L. Stanizzi
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF